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Senator James Couzens, Senator Duncan Fletcher, and Ferdinand Pecora of the Senate Banking Committee, photograph, January 11, 1934

Senator James J. Couzens of Michigan (left), a member of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, conferred with its chairman, Senator Duncan Fletcher of Florida (center), and the committee counsel, Ferdinand Pecora (right). Fletcher succeeded Senator Peter Norbeck of South Dakota as chairman, but it was Pecora who became the investigation’s driving force.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Senator James Couzens, Senator Duncan Fletcher, and Ferdinand Pecora of the Senate Banking Committee, photograph, January 11, 1934

The 1929 Stock Market Crash

The 1929 New York stock market crash reverberated throughout the nation, propelling the economic collapse that resulted in the Great Depression. To understand the cause of the financial crash, the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency investigated the market practices of Wall Street financiers and financial institutions. Informally named after its astute and dynamic chief counsel, Ferdinand Pecora, the Pecora Committee exposed wrongdoing and recovered millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. Congress drew on the committee’s discoveries to legislate regulations that would guide the economy for decades to come.

[Financial lobbyists] are powerful, but they are not powerful enough to defy Congress. They are strong, but they are not strong enough to obstruct the Government. At least that is my hope.

Senator Duncan Fletcher of Florida, Speech to the Senate, May 7, 1934